Archive for witch

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull Leaves No Fantasy Stone Unturned

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by Jessica Lada

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull is a young adult fantasy novel about every child’s dream and nightmare at the same time.   Siblings Kendra and Seth get dropped off at their grandfather’s house while their parents go on a 17-day cruise and they discover he’s the caretaker of Fablehaven, a mystical land hidden in the forest beyond his yard.  It’s a wildlife preserve for the magical creatures, good and evil, to protect them from extinction.

Brandon Mull’s bestselling series is up to four books and the fifth, Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison, comes out March 23rd, 2010.  The first book in the series establishes the storyline for the whole set.  Fablehaven is one of the last strongholds for magic in the world and it’s being threatened by the Society of the Evening Star.

Kendra and Seth are fascinated by their Grandpa’s house and spend their days exploring within the bounds of Grandpa’s rules.  Unfortunately, the fascination lasted longer for the kids than it did for me.   The book was easy to put down during the first seventy-some pages and I kept wondering when the cool stuff was going to happen.  Luckily, Mull amps up the story just in time to salvage the novel and the rest of the story keeps good pace.  The thing that saved the story through the slow start was a nasty witch named Muriel tied up in the woods by a frayed rope.  She gnaws at a knot in the rope and as soon as she appears, I knew she had to get loose at some point in the story.  It creatsa lot of suspense and anticipation, especially with mischievous rule-breaker Seth running around.

The big theme of the novel is that you reap what you sow.  Kendra is the good girl and her brother Seth is the well-intentioned rascal.  Seth and Kendra are nice foils for the moral lesson–sort of a fantasy version of “Goofus and Gallant”–but at times it seemed like everything wrapped up too tidily for them.

But despite a few flaws (and a slightly off-putting scene involving a giant cow named Viola and her giant udders) Mull created a truly creepy antagonist in Muriel.  The story world and the series concept are engaging and vivid, but it isn’t a knockoff of its predecessors.  There’s a lot of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling inspiration showing through in Fablehaven, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.  This is a great series for anyone who likes fantasy where the magical realm overlaps with the modern world.  I’ll be excited to see how the series wraps up in the final book this March.

–originally posted on http://blogcritics.org/

Perfectly Bewitching — Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2010 by Jessica Lada

Joseph Delaney’s The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch was exactly what I needed during Ice Storm 2010 last weekend.  Delaney submerged me immediately into fantastical 16th-17th Century England.  His hero, Thomas Ward, is the seventh son of a seventh son and he’s apprenticing with Old Gregory the Spook.  Old Gregory deals with any erstwhile witches, boggarts, and other such ghastly creatures that put County residents in peril.   Gregory’s time as Spook won’t last forever.   Now the big question is, how long will Thomas last as his apprentice?

Joseph Delaney taught English before beginning his career as a novelist.   Revenge of the Witch is his first children’s novel and he wastes no time proving that he can tell a great story.  The world is rich and vivid, and it’s no surprise that Delaney based the setting on the area in England where he lives.  From the very first page of the story, I was hooked.   Delaney speaks through his thirteen year old protagonist without sounding forced.  As a graduate student in my (hopefully) final semester of college, I thought that a spooky fantasy novel aimed for a younger audience would be simplistic and somehow beneath me.  But somewhere between the ghast (a ghostlike remainder of a departed soul) of a murderous miner and the witch Bony Lizzie’s manky breath, I remembered that deep down I’m a complete coward.

I loved that Thomas stuck to his own sense of right and wrong even though in several instances he contradicted his Master’s opinion.  If somebody told me not to go into the forest because there’s a witch locked up alive in a hole in the ground, I wouldn’t be tempted to go there for any reason.  Not even on a bet.  And I definitely wouldn’t feel sorry for the old hag.  But that’s why Thomas is the Spook’s apprentice and I’m the one sitting up at three in the morning reading about him.

I’m glad I came to this series when six books are already in print.  If I had to wait for the next book to come out, it would be an impatient wait.  Delaney tied up the main story questions, but he also planted the seeds for a great series.  Thomas, his mother, Old Gregory, and Alice are all characters I want to know more about.

For fans of spooky witch and ghoul fantasy novels, this is a great series.  It would also satisfy any fans of master/apprentice stories who might want a change from the page/squire/knight/wizard blueprint.  My fiancé even picked the book up, and he’s usually not much of a fiction reader unless it’s something post-apocalyptic and utterly depressing.   Revenge of the Witch has definitely earned its place on my shelf.  I can’t wait to plug in a couple of night lights and pick up the next volume of the series.